Many of my anxiously attached and even fearful avoidant clients are pleasantly surprised when a dismissive avoidant ex reaches out first. They’ve read everywhere, watched YouTube videos, and been told that dismissive avoidants don’t reach out after a break-up, but alas! a dismissive avoidant ex reached out first.
But as excited they are that their dismissive avoidant ex reached out first, they also wonder what does it mean?
Instances when dismissive avoidants reach out after a break-up
Let’s clear the “Do dismissive avoidants reach out after a break-up?” confusion first. I admit I have somewhat contributed to generalizing dismissive avoidant behaviour post break-up but I’ve also tried to identify exceptions where dismissive avoidants reach out first after the break-up (i.e. to check on an ex well-being, if they were attached to you, when they you’ve come to terms with the break-up and now the two of you can be friends, when they want to hook-up etc.).
And because dismissives avoidants generally don’t initiate no contact unless the relationship was toxic, the breakup was nasty, or an ex is being disruptive (too much stress and drama) post break-up, a dismissive avoidant can continue texting back and forth but at a slower pace. They’re okay with being in contact with an ex because unlike anxiously attached and fearful avoidants, break-ups are not “too painful” for dismissive avoidants and don’t upset their daily life. A dismissive avoidant can afford to stay in contact with an ex but with more distance than when you were together.
In my article What Are A Dismissive Avoidant Breakup Stages, I mentioned that sometimes dismissive avoidants don’t remember (or care) who broke up with whom. They think you broke up with them and you think they broke up with you. The reason for this is that most dismissive avoidant breakups are fadeouts rather than “we’re breaking up”.
You have a fight or argument, and a dismissive avoidant disappears for weeks even for months. You don’t know if you’re broken up, on a break or waiting to break-up. In these instances, there’s a very high chance that a dismissive avoidant ex will reach out because:
- They don’t think it’s necessary to make a big deal out of what happened and want to move on from it.
- They feel responsible in part for the way things are. Stepping out of their comfort zone is their way of trying to make things right again.
- They are not yet ready to let go you, or give up on the relationship.
Why dismissive avoidants don’t reach out first
All that said, dismissive avoidants are not the type of people to reach out first and seek out connections. They would rather minimize contact with others because being alone is safer than being close to others.
During the relationship, most dismissive avoidants mostly respond when you reach out and take their time to respond to texts. When they reach out, their texts consist of few words. They’ll not chat with you all day long and will end contact with the slightest indication of confrontation or criticism. They forget birthdays and only show concern for your well-being if they think the situation is serious.
They don’t see the point of reaching out for reaching out’s sake and ignore texts that seem like you are reaching out just for reaching out’s sake. And unlike fearful avoidants, dismissive avoidants don’t get anxious when they don’t get a response. Just as they don’t feel obliged to respond, they don’t feel you owe them a response.
Even when something happened and you obviously need to talk about it, a dismissive avoidant will not like what happened but not be in a hurry to talk about it, or even want to talk about it at all if the same thing has happened before. They see no need to talk about what has already been discussed, explained or agreed on. To a dismissive avoidant, that’s making a “big deal” about it.
Why dismissive avoidant exes reach out then quickly backs off
This is the same attitude dismissive avoidant exes have when they reach out after the break-up: Let’s not talk about what happened and try to move on from it.
Where things get horribly worse after a dismissive avoidant ex reaches out is while a dismissive avoidant is trying to move on from what happened, their anxiously attached ex or anxious leaning fearful avoidant ex wants to talk about what happened.
The natural tendency for an anxious person and anxious leaning fearful avoidant is:
- Try to understand why the break-up happened (and why it happened the way it did)
- Apologize for what they think they did wrong even when they’re not sure what exactly they did wrong (or even think they did anything wrong)
- Seek reassurance that their ex’s feelings have not changed and that there is a chance things can be worked out.
Often this eagerness to right the past, fix a mistake, or set the record straight is what makes anxiously attached come across as aggressive (attacking), defensive, desperate, needy, moving too fast or pushing too hard for connection and closeness.
A dismissive avoidant ex who reached out quickly realizes that it was a mistake to reach out and backs off from all contact.
A dismissive avoidant can reach out back off and reach out again
Some dismissive avoidants reach out again after initially backing off because an ex wanted to talk about the relationship, the break-up or getting back together. They’ll wait for some time to pass hoping that with time, you will have move don from the past and the two of you can now begin a new “friendly” relationship or become friends.
Unfortunately, when a dismissive avoidant backs off after initiating contact, many anxiously attached and fearful avoidants go into protest behaviour. They’re hurt, scared of “pushing” away their dismissive avoidant ex again and even angry because they got their hopes up when their dismissive avoidant ex reached out and don’t want to repeat the same mistake.
What do they do? They ignore their dismissive avoidant ex reach out. Some anxiously attached and fearful avoidants even think, “my dismissive avoidant reached out because I ignored them” or “they reached out after x weeks after no contact”. What they don’t realize or understand is, dismissive avoidants react very differently to being ignored and it’s not how anxiously attached and fearful avoidants feels or reacts.
Understanding why a dismissive avoidant ex is reaching out
If your dismissive avoidant reached out, don’t read too much into it. Take it for what it is:
1) It’s not completely unusual for dismissive avoidant exes to reach out after the break-up.
2) There’s no standard time for when your dismissive avoidant ex reaches out. Some dismissive avoidants never cut off contact after the breakup, some reach out a few days after the break-up and others reach out weeks and months, and even years later. And some dismissive avoidants never reach out or respond to you reaching out.
3) It takes effort on the part of a dismissive avoidant to reach out if there’s been no contact because reaching out is not a dismissive avoidant attachment natural behaviour. Which means that your dismissive avoidant ex didn’t impulsively reach out; they must have thought long and hard before reaching out.
4) Dismissive avoidants reach out even when they’ve not processed the break-up. They will reach out and ask about your life, share fun experiences and even fun memories but that only shows that they still have feelings and want to reconnect. It doesn’t necessarily mean they want to get back together.
5) A dismissive avoidant is not going to want constant back and forth exchanges or long conversations and will from time to time not respond, not because they want you to leave them alone but because that’s how they pace closeness.
6) A dismissive avoidant ex will back off after reaching out if things get too “emotional” too fast or move too fast for what they’re comfortable with.